circles

   , circling
   Symbolically, a circle can stand for perfection, wholeness, or a boundary (protective or confining); circling round something can be a way of honouring or blessing it, or, conversely, of receiving blessing or power from it. Circling can also summon a supernatural being - it is one of the commonest English local traditions that if you run round a specified mound, tree, cross, grave, church, or stone at a specified time and/or a specified number of times without stopping, you will raise a *ghost, or the *Devil; the condition is less easy than it seems, since running round a small object causes giddiness, and round a large one is exhausting. The circle as boundary is exemplified by the common instruction in manuals of *magic to draw a circle round oneself as protection against spirits summoned, or to conjure the spirit into a circle which will confine it; more prosaically, it appears also in the Devonshire belief that a snake cannot escape a circle drawn round it with an ash stick (Bray, 1838: 95).

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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